Hi everyone! This weekend was a huge weekend! I ran the Kalamazoo half marathon. For those of you who aren’t geography lovers – I mean Kalamazoo Michigan – which is in fact, I real name of a real town…. that has a lot of hills… but we’ll get to that.
I decided to do this half awhile ago, as a lot of people from my run club typically do this race. Friday night we headed up and stayed at my friends’ cottage in a small lake town, about 40 minutes outside of Kalamazoo. It was so much fun to have a mini vacay with my favorite running peeps. Friday consisted of just getting up there, and chillaxing, Saturday was jam-packed.
Pat and I went into Kalamazoo to meet with our friends for lunch/breakfast, we also experienced a small earthquake (which for people who are born and raised in the midwest – this creates a panic like no other).
Outside of this earthquake the rest of the day was pretty uneventful – packet pick up was a fast experience – it was minimal, but I got what I needed (small backpack for gear check, and some pretty sweet hot/cold packs), and some pretty nifty photos.
Pat and I also drove part of the course- so I could get him somewhat acclimated for where he would need to go on Sunday, and so I could better acclimate myself. I was glad I did this, so I could actually see how steeply graded some of the hills actually were.
We ultimately ended up going back to Watervliet to hang out with my Venados crew at the local brewery (amazing), and ended up day drinking all afternoon (always a good option pre-race), and then ended up going out to dinner as a club.
This – at least for me is where the night took a turn. I am normally a creature of habit pre-race, to the point it borders OCD. But I figured “ehhh I’ve done enough half marathons that I can just be “careful””….
So we went out to a local place, and I still tried to be conservative- I ordered ravioli with marinara, and grilled chicken. Seems conservative right? Hah. It came with a thick (glorious- under normal circumstances) layer of cheese. The sauce also was not just a plain red sauce – there was cream in it as well. Well I still ate it – and ate too much of it.
After dinner Pat and I drove into Kalamazoo – he got us a hotel room for Saturday night – I drove us the 40 minutes in, and I was so full/nauseated/distended, that I was unable to even lay down in bed – I had to sit up to fall asleep. Additionally this past weekend was also graduation weekend at Western Michigan University – so around 2-2:30 our hotel felt more like Animal House versus a quiet hotel pre-race.
Because I kept waking up- I kept continuing to realize how shitty I felt. I legitimately considered puking, I tried “going to the bathroom”. nothing. When I woke up, I felt somewhat better – but I couldn’t tell if what was going on in my stomach was butterflies, or was it ravioli-like volcano waiting to errupt along the course (I was hoping for the former). This is where the benefit of having a controlled meal the night before helps – as I typically know it’s butterflies and I just tell myself to shut up- but this race morning – I was unsure which it was, so it led to even more nerves.
I ate my oatmeal in the car on the way to the race – and was able to make some business happen prior to the gun. I did a very remedial stretch, and just prayed that my knees and hip would be ok. And then – there was no turning back.
As I’ve eluded to in previous posts, I know this race is a monster. It’s rolling hills, with 2-3 MOTHERs of uphill climbing. I knew it would be tough, but I REALLY trusted in my training. And I ran the first 4-5 miles so conservatively – around a 9:20 pace – to give my stomach time to figure itself out, to not burn out, and let me tell you – by the time I got the monster hills at mile 9, 11.5, and 12 – I was so happy I was conservative in the first third of the race, but it made the last third signifcantly less awful.
My plan was to drop from a 9:20 pace to a 9:10 pace around mile 5-6, however there were a lot of turns, and rolling hills that made it very very hard to maintain this pace, so I stay around 9:20-9:28 until I hit the mother hill at mile 9. After that my pace continously slowed to my final pace of 10:01. I still pr’d – I ran 2:11, on a bitch of a course. I physically I felt, strong. My knee ached a bit, which made it harder to get the turnover I was looking for at the end, but overall, I was solid. I probably should have ran with my water bottle versus stopping at all of the aid stations (it was significantly hotter than what I have been training in- and I haven’t ran in this level of heat in > 7 months). But I did fine with using the aid stations.
Despite not hitting my goal of less than 2:05 – I still ran a best on a bitch of a course. So I’m pleased, I really am. This tells me that with the right amount of training, and resting – I can probably hit the 2 hour mark on a fast, flat course.
In terms of the race as an event: it was awesome. I have to say that both “smaller” half marathons and fulls, versus “major” races both have their pro’s and con’s. Regardless, this event was inexpensive, it was VERY well executed, there were PLENTY of aid stations, lot’s of crowd support. They had a nice post race party. Overall it was just a really nice event, well run. Could not ask for more- except fewer hills 🙂 . It was also nice having the Venados there cheering as well as Pat and his parents.
This is a course to test yourself. It’s not a pr course (or so I’m told), but it’s a solid race to do, especially if you’re trying to push yourself. I would consider doing this race again – just to see if I could continue bettering myself on this course. I know – I’m insane.
After the race we enjoyed some refreshments (beer) back at the cottage, and some food, and ice cream. In terms of today I am sore, but ok. Again, my training was huge, and I LISTENED to by body. I did not do a long run last week – because my hip flexor was sore, my legs ached, so I just did three miles, and said screw it. I ran 2-3 times in the week leading up to the race – they were easy 3 milers. I did a lot of stretching and yoga, and I think that paid off.
I did get into the Chicago Marathon,, training for that will start in a little over a month. So in the interim, I am just going to take it easy, and maintain the base I have laid. 2-3 runs per week max, and no more than 15 miles per week. I plan to do a lot of cross training – and do some T-25 works outs on the days I am not running. Now that the weather is nice, I am hoping I can start biking to work some days.
Looking back, as I plan to prepare for the marathon – I legitmately over trained last year. In terms of races this summer I have only signed up for 2- one of which will take place before marathon training begins. Last year I burnt myself out before the big dance. I know mentally, that I can complete a marathon, because I’ve done it before. This year I plan to back off significantly on the amount of races I run during training as well as my long runs.